"We see, in many a land, the proudest dynasties and tyrannies still crushing, with their mountain weight, every free motion of the Consciences and hearts of men. We see, on the other hand, the truest heroism for the right and the greatest devotion to the Truth in hearts that God has touched. We have a work to do, as great as our forefathers and, perhaps, far greater. The enemies of Truth are more numerous and subtle than ever and the needs of the Church are greater than at any preceding time. If we are not debtors to the present, then men were never debtors to their age and their time. Brethren, we are debtors to the hour in which we live. Oh, that we might stamp it with Truth and that God might help us to impress upon its wings some proof that it has not flown by neglected and unheeded." -- C.H. Spurgeon . . . "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31, 32 . . . . .

BOOKMARK AND SHARE

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

NUMBERS – From SINAI To The PROMISED LAND: Chapters 16

NUMBERS – From SINAI To The PROMISED LAND: Chapters 16


Contributing commentaries by pastors Sonny Islas, Albert Lopez and James Fire


Complete Study of Numbers by pastor Chuck Smith


NUMBERS 16: “A FIGHT FOR HIGH POSITION” – by Sonny Islas, For the full message, watch it on the Facebook video or on SHINE BRIGHT Church YouTube channel!

INTRODUCTION: At this point in the story, we’re going to read about a very envious and self-centered man by the name of Korah, (his name means bald, possibly pointing to his hairless body as a newborn baby, and like Moses and Aaron, he too was Levite). This man led a great rebellion against Moses and Aaron. He and his followers wanted to take Moses and Aaron’s God-given positions. But as we will soon see, Korah and his conspirators will get a rude awakening from the LORD Himself!

The Book of Jude calls Korah’s actions “the rebellion of Korah” (JUDE 1:11).

Korah went down in history as a rebel towards God and God’s men.

We can also view this sad scene as A GIANT OLD TESTAMENT CHURCH SPLIT. This was one massive division. It’s a picture of what one discontented megalomaniac guy can do. “A little leaven (the sin of pride) can in fact leaven (affect and influence) the whole lump (in Korah’s case – thousands of discontented Israelites)” (GAL 5:9).

NUMBERS 16:1-3
1 Now Korah the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, with Dathan and Abiram the sons of Eliab, and On the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took men; 2 and they rose up before Moses with some of the children of Israel, two hundred and fifty leaders of the congregation, representatives of the congregation, men of renown. 3 They gathered together against Moses and Aaron, and said to them, You take too much upon yourselves, for all the congregation is holy, every one of them, and the LORD is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the LORD?


[vs 1] NOW KORAH… WITH DATHAN, ABIRAM, AND ON: This man named ON was ON alright, ON the losing side. He was off track!

Poor Moses, he doesn’t seem to catch a break! In NUMBERS 12, Moses’ own sister Miriam and older brother Aaron came against Him to try and take his position and God struck Miriam with Leprosy for what she did and kicked her out of the camp for 7 days. NOW KORAH: Who is Moses’ cousin. Talk about having a dysfunctional family! Looks like Korah didn’t learn the lesson God taught everyone when He struck Miriam for the same sin that Korah is guilty of now – to attempt to overthrow God’s man out of impure spite and pride.

Interestingly enough, NUMBERS 14, Israel wanted a new leader – and lo and behold, here he is – Korah, the godless rebel.

[vs. 2] THEY ROSE UP AGAINST MOSES… WITH TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTY LEADERS OF THE CONGREGATION (THIS WAS LIKE ONE BIG GIANT OUTDOOR CHURCH) … MEN OF RENOWN: At first glance, it looked like Korah’s “IMPEACH MOSES AND AARON NOW!” CAMPAIGN was going really swell! Korah was one persuasive man, he was able to gain the support of the most popular, powerful, and notable men of Israel.  Korah figured in the secret chamber of his darkened heart, “I’m going to win the support of the best men, in order to impeach Moses!”

This is a common divide and conquer tactic that men who try to cause division in local churches use. They speak evil of the leader or leadership to others (even leaders if they can get away with it, like Korah did here), to defame them and to gain support in order to get what they really want – the “throne”, i.e. control and power.

Just for kicks, I read an article regarding the main reasons why local churches split up: And it turns out that church splits are very common which is heartbreaking. If a local church splits, it should be to plant another church.

The reasons for church splits are:

1. Unwillingness to forgive overlookable offences – small and petty offences.
2. When major and irreparable offences occur.
3. When high and unrealistic expectations are not met.
4. When a leadership is passive and disconnected.
5. When doctrinal differences occur.
6. When people disagree on music styles.
7. When a jealous person rallies others to impeach the pastor.
8. Church splits also occur when obvious spiritual abuse comes from the leadership – at this point it’s right to leave. When church leaders are questionably or undeniably in the wrong – they should be respectfully confronted. The article goes on to state that pride and selfishness is always the root cause.

I heard John MacArthur tell of a time early in his ministry, of a few haughty church members who rose up against him and eventually caused 200 people to ditch his church. I don’t remember all the details, but MacArthur said it was a tough time. I bet!

Serving in church leadership is not an easy job, that’s why at times, even the great Moses wanted out. People can be difficult to work with. One statistic shows that: The average stay at a church for a senior pastor is about 4 years. (Well, I’m just about 8 years in, so I should be ok – with the LORD’s help!) Pray for SBC’s church leadership – because we need it.

Most of the congregation of Israel didn’t like Moses (which is beyond me because he was a great leader – arguably one of the best). One valuable thing I knew when becoming a pastor was that not everyone is going to like me – and that’s ok. The pastorate is not a popularity contest – it’s shepherding, and some sheep bite! Good spiritual leadership knows that it’s in a battle for people’s souls and greater levels of spiritual growth and obedience to God’s Word (In Moses’ case, he worked hard to get them closer to God and into the promised land). He wasn’t worried about being liked.

Listen, I have no time to drown in 'poor me pity parties'. I don’t give too much thought regarding people liking me or not – I’m sure some just don’t – so be it. Children don’t always like their parents either – but a parent’s got to do what a parent’s got to do.

Regarding pastors, HEBREWS 13:17 says,
Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.

[vs. 3] YOU TAKE TOO MUCH UPON YOURSELVES: Korah and his rebels accused Moses and Aaron of greedily grabbing too much leadership and authority for themselves. Which could not be further from the truth, because Moses and Aaron were chosen by God and again, Moses eventually raised up 70 elders to help him lead - this is not the move of a one man show.

It was God who called Moses and Aaron to serve and lead Israel – and as you know Moses refused to be God’s front man and mouthpiece at first, therefore God called Aaron to assist Moses. 

1 CORINTHIANS 12:8 tells us that it is God who places everyone exactly where He wants them:
But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased.”
Just as God chose our eyes to be placed above the nose on our face and for our ears to stick out on each side of our head, God chooses what everyone here will do for Him. He positions His people (body parts if you will) where He wants them.

And God chose Moses to lead Israel, not Korah.

When it comes to local church pastors/elders, ACTS 20:28 tells us that it was the Holy Spirit that has made us overseers and shepherds (pastors). Genuine pastors are ultimately handpicked by God, not by man (although man plays a role in the recognition of spiritual giftings and in selecting men). Korah and the majority of Israel utterly failed to understand this valuable lesson.

[vs. 3 cont’d] FOR ALL THE CONGREGATION IS HOLY, EVERYONE OF THEM, AND THE LORD IS AMONG THEM:
Korah and his rebels were wrong and right here. i.e. the majority of the congregation was not holy (practically speaking) at this point because they were in a state of rebellion against the LORD. And, yes, some may have been holy, as far as belonging to God, but they were not holy like Moses and Aaron in the sense that they were not holy - or set apart - for the divine purpose of leading Israel like Moses and Aaron.

Korah was basically saying “look everyone, all of us can be leaders like Moses and Aaron.” There is no distinction between us and them. But there was a clear difference – they (Moses and Aaron etc.) were called to lead the ministerial work, while the rest were called to follow and participate.

Korah’s attitude reminds me of JAMES 3:14-16
14 But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. 15 This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. 16 For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there
.

Here we see that envy and self-seeking only leads to demonic activity and confusion. We need to beware of envy and self-seeking at all times. It will tear a local church and its leadership apart!

JAMES 4:1-3
1 Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? 2 You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures
.

Here we see that anytime anyone lusts for position, influence and power, war will break out. Lust for more, only produces fights, wars, disunity, and all out division.

TITUS 3:9-11 - tells us how to handle modern day Korah’s in the local church:
 9 But avoid foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and useless. 10 Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition, 11 knowing that such a person is warped and sinning, being self-condemned.

NUMBERS 16:4-11
 4 So when Moses heard it, he fell on his face; 5 and he spoke to Korah and all his company, saying, "Tomorrow morning the LORD will show who is His and who is holy, and will cause him to come near to Him. That one whom He chooses He will cause to come near to Him. 6 "Do this: Take censers, Korah and all your company; 7 "put fire in them and put incense in them before the LORD tomorrow, and it shall be that the man whom the LORD chooses is the holy one. You take too much upon yourselves, you sons of Levi!" 8 Then Moses said to Korah, "Hear now, you sons of Levi: 9 "Is it a small thing to you that the God of Israel has separated you from the congregation of Israel, to bring you near to Himself, to do the work of the tabernacle of the LORD, and to stand before the congregation to serve them; 10 "and that He has brought you near to Himself, you and all your brethren, the sons of Levi, with you? And are you seeking the priesthood also? 11 Therefore you and all your company are gathered together against the LORD. And what is Aaron that you complain against him?


[vs. 4] WHEN MOSES HEARD IT , HE FELL ON HIS FACE: This is the response of a godly man/leader. Moses didn’t act right away. He didn’t make a counterattack plan. He prayed to God for clear guidance in the matter at hand! And I believe that it was the LORD’s idea to have all these men burn incense (which is the responsibility of Aaron and His sons – the priest) not Korah nor his bandits. (When people come against us, let’s not become impulsive, let’s take it to God first, and He will show us what to do and how to go about things).

Notice, that the LORD showed Moses what to do right away – by “tomorrow morning” God was going to handle these rebels ASAP!

Paul tells Korah and his wannabe priests, DO THIS: “Take censors (250 of them) and burn incense before the LORD.” This was a clear test. Because again, this was precisely Aaron and his sons (the priests) job and no one else’s (EXOD 30:7-9 & 1 CHRON 6:49).

In one sense, Moses challenged Korah’s men to take their rebellion to the next level by openly and directly disobeying God’s Word - which was that incense burning was strictly for Aaron and his sons to do. Moses basically said, “You want to rebel, let me help you with that!” DO THIS…

God allowed Korah’s men to act as priests for a moment only to reject them.

I think that the LORD still does this today. He may let self-exalting, greedy rebels, power grabbers, and limelight lovers to do what they lust after in local churches, but He won’t support it, bless it, nor approve of it.

 In verse 7, Moses tells Korah and his minions, “You take too much upon yourselves, you sons of Levi!” Moses was telling them, “I’m not the one craving for position and power, you are, and now – you will face God and His wrath! And calling them “sons of Levi” was like calling them “mere men – or senseless dummies” – who absurdly came against God and His will and His Word.

From verse 9-10, Moses tells Korah, (paraphrase) “look, God gave you an awesome position already – you are in charge of carrying the Holy things of the Tabernacle” (NUM 4:15). But this wasn’t enough for Korah and his men. They wanted everything. This is why Moses asks, “and are you seeking (self-seeking that is) the priesthood also?” This was Moses’ way of saying “What’s wrong with you people?!” – These men lusted for that which was not given to them.

Unlike Korah, let’s learn to be content with wherever God has us and with whatever God has us doing, and if He desires to give us more in His perfect wisdom and  timing, then so be it – but don’t lust for advancement, nor plot for position, be a humble and happy servant of God instead. Here, we clearly see how God feels about the envious, the jealous, the ungrateful, the discontent, the complainer and power grabber - He doesn’t like it at all!

Regarding the local church – if God calls you to serve in the music ministry, don’t lust after the Music Director’s position. If God calls you to teach children, don’t lust after the Children Director’s position. If God calls you to the assistant pastorate or eldership, don’t lust after the senior pastor’s role. Don’t have the “Anything you can do; I can do better than you” attitude. Just serve happily and faithfully, God will take care of the rest (faithfulness to what GOD has given to you, will lead to His promotion (PS 
37:34;75:5-7;  PR 4:7-9)


I’ve heard of pastor’s wives desiring their husband’s role – not good. By the way, today’s female pastors and preachers are just like Korah and his rebels in that they fight for and perform that which was not given to them.


When the LORD called me to ministry work, I just served in any way possible, and little by little the LORD raised me up (with all my flaws and failures). I started off by giving Bible studies in high school (during lunch breaks) and making Christian rap music (also traveling from place to place and church to church), then became (defacto) a youth leader, then a young adult leader and worship leader, then as an outreach leader, then an assistant pastor (and I did all this while preaching at different churches – as a kind of evangelist) to eventually planting
SHINE BRIGHT Church in 2014.


And it was all in the LORD’s timing – the LORD was preparing me for this job. I didn’t have to lust for it or fight for it – I just stayed busy and faithful about God’s work. By the way, when my brother, pastor Danny or anyone would say that I would someday be a pastor – I shunned the idea. Now, by the grace of God, here I am – a senior pastor like by brother Danny.

And listen, I hold this pastoral position the LORD has given me with fear and trembling. There have been times when I’ve told the LORD,

LORD, if you have not called me to the pastorate, please remove me. Please make it known to me. Because I don’t want to do anything You have not called me to.”


I’ve also prayed,

LORD, if You have someone who can do a better job than me – use him in my place.” And to be super transparent with you, I’ve prayed this prayer several times throughout the years and with tears. I’m sure that the LORD has called me – at the same time I’ll be happy to give it up, if the LORD told me to – no questions asked.

NUMBERS 16:12-14
12 And Moses sent to call Dathan and Abiram the sons of Eliab, but they said, "We will not come up! 13 Is it a small thing that you have brought us up out of a land flowing with milk and honey, to kill us in the wilderness, that you should keep acting like a prince over us? 14 "Moreover you have not brought us into a land flowing with milk and honey, nor given us inheritance of fields and vineyards. Will you put out the eyes of these men? We will not come up!


Here we see Dathan and Abiram, Korah’s right-and left-hand rebels, refusing to meet with Moses. They were not man enough to talk with Moses face to face. They would rather keep complaining in public, in the itchy ears of the congregation.

They accused Moses of being a lousy leader that couldn’t get Israel into the promised land, but it was the congregation’s rejection of God that stopped them from entering the promised land.

This reminds me of congregants who blame the pastor for their lack of spiritual growth and progress (i.e. “Why are you not getting me into the promised land, i.e., Christ-likeness?!”) when they themselves have not adopted and appropriated God’s Word as a way of life for themselves.

NUMBERS 16:15-19
15 Then Moses was very angry, and said to the LORD, "Do not respect their offering. I have not taken one donkey from them, nor have I hurt one of them." 16 And Moses said to Korah, "Tomorrow, you and all your company be present before the LORD-you and they, as well as Aaron. 17 "Let each take his censer and put incense in it, and each of you bring his censer before the LORD, two hundred and fifty censers; both you and Aaron, each with his censer." 18 So every man took his censer, put fire in it, laid incense on it, and stood at the door of the tabernacle of meeting with Moses and Aaron. 19 And Korah gathered all the congregation against them at the door of the tabernacle of meeting. Then the glory of the LORD appeared to all the congregation
.

[vs.15] Moses became angry with Korah and his rebels and rightfully so. They were not true lovers of God and Israel; they were clearly lovers of self. This is what bothered Moses.

These men had the audacity to actually take a censor and burn incense which was a clear violation of God’s Word! The test in one sense was, were these rebels going to honor God by NOT taking up a censor or dishonor God by going through with it? This reminds me of women pastors, they are not called to preach and pastor like the Korah and his rebels were not called to burn incense and they still do it – they are testing God!!

This also reminds me of men who place themselves in the pastorate, when the LORD has never called them.

NUMBERS 16:20-40
20 And the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, 21 "Separate yourselves from among this congregation, that I may consume them in a moment." 22 Then they fell on their faces, and said, "O God, the God of the spirits of all flesh, shall one man sin, and You be angry with all the congregation?" 23 ¶ So the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 24 "Speak to the congregation, saying, 'Get away from the tents of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram.'" 25 Then Moses rose and went to Dathan and Abiram, and the elders of Israel followed him. 26 And he spoke to the congregation, saying, "Depart now from the tents of these wicked men! Touch nothing of theirs, lest you be consumed in all their sins." 27 So they got away from around the tents of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram; and Dathan and Abiram came out and stood at the door of their tents, with their wives, their sons, and their little children. 28 And Moses said: "By this you shall know that the LORD has sent me to do all these works, for I have not done them of my own will. 29 "If these men die naturally like all men, or if they are visited by the common fate of all men, then the LORD has not sent me. 30 "But if the LORD creates a new thing, and the earth opens its mouth and swallows them up with all that belongs to them, and they go down alive into the pit, then you will understand that these men have rejected the LORD
.

 31 Now it came to pass, as he finished speaking all these words, that the ground split apart under them, 32 and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, with their households and all the men with Korah, with all their goods. 33 So they and all those with them went down alive into the pit; the earth closed over them, and they perished from among the assembly. 34 Then all Israel who were around them fled at their cry, for they said, "Lest the earth swallow us up also!" 35 And a fire came out from the LORD and consumed the two hundred and fifty men who were offering incense. 36 Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: 37 "Tell Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, to pick up the censers out of the blaze, for they are holy, and scatter the fire some distance away. 38 "The censers of these men who sinned against their own souls, let them be made into hammered plates as a covering for the altar. Because they presented them before the LORD, therefore they are holy; and they shall be a sign to the children of Israel." 39 So Eleazar the priest took the bronze censers, which those who were burned up had presented, and they were hammered out as a covering on the altar, 40 to be a memorial to the children of Israel that no outsider, who is not a descendant of Aaron, should come near to offer incense before the LORD, that he might not become like Korah and his companions, just as the LORD had said to him through Moses.

God buried Korah, Dathan and Abiram, their entire families and all their possessions for their relentless pride. God caused a giant sinkhole to appear or an earthquake to swallow them whole.

People who come against the LORD, and His innocent servants and try to bring about division in a local church, also hurt their children in one way or another – like we see here. Because everyone under 21 was given the grace and mercy to go into the promised land, but not so for the rebel’s kids due to the rebel’s pride.

[vs. 35] Then, God torched (burned alive), consumed the other 250 leaders! Our God is indeed “A consuming fire!” (HEB 12:29).They had the audacity to burn incense when it wasn’t for them to burn, and in return God burned them.

NUMBERS 16:41-50
41 On the next day all the congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron, saying, "You have killed the people of the LORD." 42 Now it happened, when the congregation had gathered against Moses and Aaron, that they turned toward the tabernacle of meeting; and suddenly the cloud covered it, and the glory of the LORD appeared. 43 Then Moses and Aaron came before the tabernacle of meeting. 44 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 45 "Get away from among this congregation, that I may consume them in a moment." And they fell on their faces. 46 So Moses said to Aaron, "Take a censer and put fire in it from the altar, put incense on it, and take it quickly to the congregation and make atonement for them; for wrath has gone out from the LORD. The plague has begun." 47 Then Aaron took it as Moses commanded and ran into the midst of the assembly; and already the plague had begun among the people. So he put in the incense and made atonement for the people. 48 And he stood between the dead and the living; so the plague was stopped. 49 Now those who died in the plague were fourteen thousand seven hundred, besides those who died in the Korah incident. 50 So Aaron returned to Moses at the door of the tabernacle of meeting, for the plague had stopped
.

You would think that the onlookers would learn their lesson!? But Korah’s negative influence was too strong, and it lived on in the hearts and attitudes of the rest. So, God Killed 14,700 with a severe plague/sickness. And if it wasn’t for Moses and Aaron, the one’s they hated and their compassion in intercession and prayer, God would have killed many more!

Let’s be men and women of true humility. Men who lead in love. Saints who live to serve not to be served. Men who don’t fight for high positions but are happy with whatever God entrusts us with.

No comments:

ReferenceTagging.tag();